Ola boats rescue operation

Ola boats rescue operation, humanity or marketing?



Chennai was reeling in flood, facing one of its toughest times. Remorseless and intolerant, it was taking a toll on the spirit of Chennai. Life had come to a standstill and it was becoming difficult for people to move on. Roads drowned, water at eight feet and hopes were pinned on boats. A certain Venkatesh Krishna chuckled in a humour. Little did he know that OLA would turn it around?
Getting into action, OLA sourced in Blue waters (a Chennai-based sports fishing company) with their rowers, boats and fisherman to start off with the rescue operation. The boats were equipped with two rowers, sufficient umbrella and certain relief material. Ola’s role was important in the sense they provided the right impetus to the rowers with the way it should go about the operations. OLA stood up with its proactive behaviour and responsiveness which set them apart. Successful with the whole operation, this signalled what the new-age startups stood for.
All this while, twitter was buzzing with tweets trying to decipher the motive behind the act. While some termed it as an effective marketing gimmick, many saw the other side of OLA. This is how the story has been always. A channel had a side of the story while others have got hold of the other side.
It was never planned to be a branding communication for OLA. Their existence in Chennai dates back to around two and half years and accounts for the second largest share in India in terms of booking. With the first mover advantage and a sizeable share of the market, the motive to respond the way they did, certainly cannot be to garner praise & accolades.
Long back, UBER received flak for its surge pricing during Baltimore riots in the USA and to see what OLA did during floods is surely commendable. This was also not the first instance of OLA extending a helping hand. Back during Uttarakhand floods (June 2013), they did their part by transferring OLA money to PM relief fund. Startups of the likes Zomato or OYO have offered a discount for accommodation in their listed hotels during adversities   and few other startups have implemented strategies for a social cause with no definite linkage with a profit motive.
OLA did put up its stickers on boats and jackets and it was an instance where OLA displayed that they were doing the job. We all market ourselves, this is a human phenomenon. When organisation put such an effort, it should be applauded rather than being criticised. At times, we need to take a pause and appreciate good acts of others. Boats deployed by OLA on humanitarian grounds were evident as they were the first to address the problem by an innovative solution and an act which wouldn’t return substantial profits. The only motive behind the act was to create a well-being for the people. A company goes for marketing gimmick when it tries to enter into the mind and space of the consumer and they had already established that with the first mover advantage.
In this whole operation, OLA has had their share of applause too. They have been recognised widely by people, newspapers and journals. Their work has been carried across and that has created a goodwill for the brand.
Organisations in India have reached a maturity stage where they will contribute towards the society. With young entrepreneurs at the helm of affairs all decisions are taken after much consideration. It was just like a railway journey where you go on and build that bond and when you leave, you leave with a tinge of sadness. Let us not criticise them for the valiant effort they have taken. Let us build that wave where we go on and help others, for the world is too small to meet again.
Alokesh Mohanty